Like many states, Texas uses a graduated license system. This system requires unlicensed teens to obtain a learner's license and then a provisional license before obtaining a full driving privileges.
At 14 years old, Texas teens can enroll in driver's education. Driver's education is required for all licensees. Once the teen turns 15 years old, he or she can submit an application for a learner's license at the Texas Department of Public Safety. The application must include:
After the applicant passes the vision test and a test covering local traffic signs and traffic laws, he or she is eligible for a learner's license.
The learner's license permits the holder to drive only when accompanied by a licensed driver who's at least 21 years old and has a minimum one year of driving experience.
Teens who are 16 to 18 years old and have held an instructional permit for at least six months are eligible to apply for a provisional license. Applicants must:
Licensees under the age of 18 are not permitted to drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless for work, school, or emergency medical needs. These underage motorists are also prohibited from driving with more than one passenger younger than 21 years old who is not an immediate family member. These restrictions do not apply if accompanied by a licensed adult who's at least 21 years old with at least one year of driving experience.
Violating the provisional license restrictions can lead to fines: A first violation is a $25 to $99 fine and a second is a $100 to $200 fine. All persons under age 18 are also prohibited from using a cellphone while driving.
Licensees are not required to test for a separate license after turning 18 years old. Provisional license holders who turn 18 will simply not be subject to the under-18 restrictions stated above.
Texas law does provide for a hardship license for those who show unusual family-related hardship, enrollment in vocational school, or medical necessity. The applicant is still required to take all tests and driver's education courses but may obtain the provisional license at age 15.
Before any driver can lawfully operate a vehicle in Texas, the vehicle must be properly insured. In Texas, the mandatory liability insurance requirements include at least $30,000 bodily injury per person, $60,000 bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 property damage per accident.
Any person who cannot show valid proof of minimum coverage will be subject to license and registration revocation until proof is shown. A criminal citation for failure to have valid insurance is a misdemeanor that generally results in a $175 to $350 fine. A second offense will result in a $350 to $1,000 fine, vehicle impoundment, and possible license suspension of two years with requirements to maintain proof of insurance. Persons who have previously caused an injury accident or had an accident judgment imposed can be fined up to $500 and sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail.